Friday, December 12, 2014

Legacy.

A post about obituaries over at the So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan blog brought to mind something that doesn't seem to receive much attention from vegans.

Reading a fairly lengthy interview with Donald Watson (which took place when he was 92 years old) made that which came to mind seem rather more important. (a big thank you to Lee Hall who posted a link to that interview).

It is doubtful that many vegans have read that interview and that's unfortunate. I almost wish it were somehow mandatory that everyone receive a printed copy of it at the onset of their living vegan and that they then read it annually (at least) for the remainder of their lives. It's a terrific interview and I hope everyone who happens to see this will take the time to read the whole thing and maybe even print it out and go back to it occasionally. He (Mr. Watson) was quite a remarkable human animal.

Donald Watson.
In his interview he touched on the thought that seems to get way too little focus from vegans and vegan organizations and that is consideration of legacies. He, in a lovely and understated way, points out something that seems to be almost completely overlooked by those who promote the vegan lifestyle.
So, I say there’s nothing wrong with colour printing providing it doesn’t obliterate the words or make them more difficult to read, especially for older people who may, for all we know, be the very people who leave legacies to the Society. The legacies don’t come from teenagers or young people who’re struggling, day by day, to live, and pay the basic living expenses, to keep their business, and their educations, going. The legacies come from older people, not rich people, but people with no dependents, very often, who can leave thousands of pounds as a kind of blood transfusion to keep our message still available for those who are drawn to read it.
Those thoughts from him seem so plain and simple and profound. Everyone who's vegan is going to eventually die, and as my friend over at So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan noted, they'll have an obituary, in addition to a legacy, and how lovely it would be if each vegan left a message of advocacy via their obituary (in addition to directing their legacy toward furthering the spread of veganism). As she points out in her post, that obituary could: "be a testimony about what was most important to you, and an appeal for others to go vegan as well".

It is deplorable that so little attention seems to be given to how very very much we owe our sister/brother Earthlings. Think of all the slave labor we've stolen from them for thousands and thousands of years. Think of all the plowing they've done (under threat of violence) for humans, all the pulling of carts, all the carrying of humans on their backs.

This photo was taken from the internet and the human depicted is doing exactly what my Mother's father did to prepare the soil to plant the crops that he grew on his farm. He (my maternal grandfather) farmed his whole life, helped raise four children (including my Mother) on a small farm in southwestern Oklahoma. None of that way of living would have been possible without the slave labor of non-human animals. My family, it could be argued, owes its very existence to the labor of non-human slaves (not to mention the deaths and misery of those who were killed for food).  We have a debt, a phenomenal and huge owing, to those mule and oxen and horse beings who were made to live their lives expending effort for our benefit.

If you think about it...and you should...the current configuration of human societies owes their very existence to the non-human animals. Certainly my mother's family does. They could not have been able to pull that plow and prepare that soil for crops...well...maybe a little...but nothing like on the scale that allowed my grandfather to grow acres and acres of corn and cotton and whatever. That allowed them to scratch out an adequate enough livelihood to raise four children.

Saying all that to say. Everyone who's vegan should be making provision to leave their legacy to furthering veganism, to helping alleviate the suffering and captivity of non-human Earthlings. Every human animal who is vegan (and non-vegan), it could be argued, owes their life's existence to those animal slaves and those animals who were victimized for food. We took from them, against their will, their labor and their lives.

Those efforts and lives are ill-gotten gains. They didn't belong to us but we took them (or our ancestors did). We got here on their backs and over their corpses (and because of eating their corpses). Everyone reading this, if they look far enough back in their family history, will eventually reach a point where they find that the livelihood of their foremothers and forefathers depended on animal efforts and animal lives. Every single reader will, most likely, find this to be true.

That's why whatever I've accumulated during my lifetime will go toward supporting vegan rescues and/or sanctuaries and/or vegan advocacy efforts. Some small bit of that accumulation might be because of my efforts...but the unpaid owings of my ancestors easily accounts for that and by far the bulk of whatever I might have is because of the beginnings I was given from the efforts of animals who weren't human. We owe reparations to them (just as we here in the U.S. owe reparations for the stolen misery and effort and labor of human slaves)...we owe and we owe tremendously. Trying to returning some of what we've stolen isn't "charity"...it's justice...it's decency...it's the right thing to do.

Use your obituary for advocacy, bequeath your legacy for vegan advocacy and for the sanctuaries and rescues devoted to the alleviation of the suffering and killing of our sister/brother Earthlings. Because we all owe them for what is and has been stolen (by violence or threat of violence) from them. Oh, and please, as Mr. Watson suggests, don't obliterate words in your vegan literature...or make them difficult to read for us older people. Ok?

(Previous blog posts here and here reference some of the ideas that are visited in this piece.)

2 comments:

Have Gone Vegan said...

Hear, hear!

Yes, I will read, and at least bookmark (if not print out) that interview with Donald Watson.

And thank you for articulating so nicely WHY it's so important for vegans to leave a legacy, because you're right, the whole legacy angle doesn't receive enough attention and it darn well should.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. I hope you enjoy reading the interview. It's lovely.